The Pulse: Jan. 14, 2022

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

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Essentials

  • 2°C: A mix of sun and cloud. Fog patches dissipating in the morning. Wind becoming southwest 20 km/h near noon. High plus 2. Wind chill minus 8 in the morning. UV index 1 or low. (forecast)
  • 786: Alberta now has 786 patients in hospital due to COVID-19, including 79 in intensive care — three fewer than the day before. The province reported 6,010 new cases and eight new deaths. (details)
  • Jan. 15, 8pm: After a delay involving several players testing positive for COVID-19, the Oilers (18-14-2) are set to host the Ottawa Senators (9-18-2) on Saturday at 8pm. (details)

Heather Ratsoy speaks at a news conference

Downtown daycares in danger of succumbing to pandemic

Fewer families need the service now as they work from home, but child care may not be there when they return to the core post-COVID


By Emily Rendell-Watson Emily Rendell-Watson

As Edmontonians weather a fifth wave of the pandemic, the prolonged closure of many downtown offices has left daycares in the heart of the city struggling to stay open.

"I am concerned that we may have to shut our doors if we don't get help to survive," said Heather Ratsoy, owner of It's All About Kids Daycare. The daycare has been based out of the main floor of the Edmonton Journal building since 2000, when Ratsoy transitioned from manager of the centre to the owner.

At one point, she had 300 families on the waiting list for a spot because it is "right in the middle of the hub of offices."

But as COVID-19 shut down the city, parents opted to enrol their children in daycare centres closer to their new home offices. Now out of 59 available spots at It's All About Kids, only nine children are enrolled.

"Downtown is like a dead zone," Ratsoy said. "But survival is very important, so that when things get better we are there to provide the services that are needed downtown. You can say that about restaurants, about any business. But in order for people to go to work, we have to be there."

Ratsoy isn't the only one concerned — other daycare operators, politicians, and parents are sounding the alarm that a key piece of social infrastructure is at risk of collapsing if more supports aren't provided soon.

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Headlines


By Mack Male Mack Male and Doug Johnson Doug Johnson

  • Freezing rain on Thursday morning led to 107 property damage collisions, 12 hit-and-run crashes, and four collisions causing injury. In a Twitter thread, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi addressed the concerns and frustrations he's heard from Edmontonians about road conditions. "Our policy and service standards must adapt to the ever-changing weather patterns and I am committed to exploring better ways to improve service," he said.
  • Edmonton will see nearly 100 km of expansions, fixes, and fill-ins to missing sidewalks throughout 2022 and 2023 thanks to the $4 million approved by city council during last month's budget deliberations. Construction could start this spring.
  • According to the Canada Office Figures Q4 2021 report from CBRE, Edmonton's downtown office vacancy rate is 21.1%, fourth-highest in the country among major metropolitan areas. Calgary has the highest downtown office vacancy rate at 33.2%, followed by the Waterloo Region at 27.1%, and London at 26.1%. The national average is 15.7%.
  • In a new report on the Bus Network Redesign, the city said "ridership is steadily climbing and is currently at the highest level since the onset of the initial pandemic restrictions in March 2020." No changes to the new bus network are recommended while data analysis continues.
  • Much lauded restaurant P.F. Chang's is opening its first Alberta location in the Currents of Windermere. The location is more than 6,000 square feet, and joins a rapidly growing retail district in south Edmonton.
  • Edmonton Elks head coach Chris Jones will also serve as the team's defensive coordinator this year. Defensive line coach Demetrious Maxie and linebackers coach Cam Robinson — both of whom were with the team last season — are returning.
  • Alberta Education's E-Tutoring Hub videos have some educators less than pleased. The videos, launched last Tuesday, are designed to help young students who missed school catch up, but some teachers believe they're poor quality and a waste of money in an already cash-strapped field.
  • As the province is mandating that people using supervised consumption sites need to provide their personal healthcare numbers, Moms Stop the Harm, the Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society, and 10 allied groups, are asking Ottawa to intervene. In an open letter, the groups asked Minister Carolyn Bennett to write to her Alberta counterpart to "assert federal jurisdiction over the regulation."
  • After Quebec announced it would levy a tax on unvaccinated people, Premier Jason Kenney announced Alberta would not be following suit. Though he conceded that unvaccinated people are a burden on the healthcare system, he said that taxing them would be "completely rubbishing the whole principle of universality of health care."
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Cover art for Better Lait Than Never featuring a blue splat with yellow lettering

Podcast pick: Better Lait Than Never


By Andy Trussler Andy Trussler

Baggedmilk is something of Edmonton influencer. If you follow the Oilers, you probably also follow Oilersnation, where Baggedmilk and his team have spent more than 10 years breaking down everything Edmonton hockey, win or lose. He's a major player in Oilersnation Radio and the Real Life Podcast, but the New Year saw something new from Baggedmilk: his first ever solo podcast, Better Lait Than Never.

The podcast was born from the boredom the pandemic created, support from Arcadia Brewing Co., and the desire to give Oilers fans a place to vent and commiserate about their team. If you happen to be one of them, you can contribute via voice message, Twitter, Instagram, or email.

"My dream for (the show) is to give citizens of Oilers Nation a place to voice their opinions about the hockey team, or their lives in general, while also being able to explore my own weird sense of humour," Baggedmilk told Taproot. "I want this podcast to be different every time you listen to it."

His famous moniker, Baggedmilk, goes back to his early blogging days at 19 years old, where he hoped to pick the "dumbest possible pseudonym" for a bit of fun.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that anyone would like what I had to say, that it would turn into a full-time job, or that people would still be calling me Baggedmilk in my mid-30s," he said.

Better Lait Than Never is available on the Oilersnation site, Spotify, and Libsyn, and will be on Apple Podcasts in the near future.

You can listen to podcast picks from Taproot on Listen Notes or Spotify.

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